Respectful Insolence

I’ve gotten into quite a few arguments over whether there is more anti-science nonsense on the right or the left lately. Actually, none of these arguments have been on the blog, mainly because I tend not to relish getting into discussions that are far more weighted towards politics than actual science or medicine. Still, sometimes I see something that leads me to think about venturing into the minefield of science and politics. This has been particularly true ever since the campaign for the Republican nomination has shifted into high gear and Michelle Bachmann’s recent descent even further into pseudoscience with her apparent embrace of anti-vaccine nuttiness. That’s not even considering the anti-science positions that are de rigeur for Republican candidates. Evolution? No way! God did it! Anthropogenic global warming? Nope! Accepting global warming science displeases our corporate masters and our anti-environmentalist base! Stem cell science? Nope. That’s against our fundamentalist religion! Reproductive health issues? Abstinence, baby. Abstinence. Virtually all the Republican candidates march in lockstep, denying the science of AGW, remaining “open” to “intelligent design” creationism, and adopting a number of positions that make denying scientific knowledge not just a peccadillo but a political imperative if they want to have a prayer of being nominated. Only John Huntsman has dared to speak out about the anti-science pervading the Republican Party, and, not coincidentally, he has pretty close to zero chance of being nominated. He failed the G.O.P. purity test, part of which is to hew to conservative orthodoxy on global warming and evolution.

Indeed, just today Chris Mooney unveiled an excellent post about this very issue, namely why the right is currently far more anti-science than the left. Back in the day (say, around a decade ago), I fell for the false equivalency that the left was as anti-science as the right. OF course, back then, the equivalence wasn’t quite as false as it is today because the Republican Party and the right wing hadn’t descended quite as far into abject anti-science. True, there were fringe elements who didn’t accept evolution, but most mainstream Republicans tried their best to ignore them, and anthropogenic global warming denialism hadn’t yet become the Republican Party religion (or at least so it seemed to me). Reading Chris’ The Republican War on Science started to open my eyes, but it wasn’t really until the last three or four years that I really started to realize just how bad the Republican Party has become. When the right tries to argue that the left is just as loony, I think Chris is right on the money when he writes:

But the fringes aren’t very relevant–unless the inmates are running the asylum. That’s what you have today on the right, where Republicans and Tea Partiers overwhelmingly reject mainstream knowledge in key areas and these views are also endorsed by elected representatives and even presidential candidates.

And this is why, when you take a left-leaning science abuse issue like vaccines and autism, it is not really very significant–because the Democratic Party does not embrace this dangerous nonsense, and because, as I mentioned, many liberals and science bloggers like myself have chased it from mainstream discourse. And the same goes for exaggeration of nuclear radiation risks (just look at how a good liberal, George Monbiot, destroyed this stuff), exaggeration of human health risks from GMOs, and so on.

It turns out that the extreme “anti-science” left consists of a few isolated loons who have little political and no corporate backing, leaving them far outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party. The extreme antiscience right, on the other hand, has another name: The Republican base, leadership, and Presidential candidates. Whether the Presidential candidates adopt anti-science positions because they believe them (like Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann) or because they don’t dare alienate their base (like Mitt Romney, who, I suspect knows better but is too craven to pull a Huntsman), the end result is the same: an unrelenting hostility to scientific knowledge that contradicts conservative beliefs. In general, Democrats don’t try to fire up their base by, for example, speaking out against vaccines or genetically modified organisms (both anti-science positions perceived as being more part of the left than the right). Indeed, as one of the commenters in Chris’s piece put it, when you start seeing Democratic senators or Representatives parroting animal rights nonsense or antivax talking-points on the House or Senate floor, then you might–I repeat, might–be able to argue persuasively that there’s some sort of equivalence between the anti-science left and anti-science right. Until then, such an argument just won’t fly.

In fact, even forms of anti-science that are widely perceived as primarily having their home on the left seem to be metastasizing to the right. I’ve already pointed out that anti-vaccine views, which again are perceived, whether correctly or not, as being primarily a left wing form of anti-science, are in fact the anti-science that cross all political boundaries. There is quite a bit of right wing anti-vaccinationism; indeed, it’s part and parcel of the “health freedom” movement promoted by General Bert Stubblebine III and Rima Laibow. If you peruse their Natural Solutions Foundation website, you’ll soon see that their big issues are “forced vaccination,” “food freedom,” and the promotion of nutrition as a cure-all. Much of the material on such pages would not be out of place on a steriotypical left-wing New Age, alt-med website.

In fact, if you want to see how anti-science traditionally considered to be left wing can be found on the right in spades, just wander on over to that wingnuttiest of right wing wingnut websites, World Net Daily. It’s not for nothing that it’s often facetiously referred to as “WorldNutDaily.” WND is home to a collection of the looniest of the right wing cranks, one of which is Chuck Norris, the karate master turned 1980s action movie star turned television star turned right wing icon. Last weekend, Norris posted an article entitled The U.S., U.N., and genetic engineering, in which he combines common right wing tropes about the U.N. and the dreaded “one world government” with fear mongering about issues traditionally viewed as the bête noire of crunchy Greenpeace activists, such as genetically modified organisms, all mixed in with “health freedom” rhetoric that could have come right from Rima Laibow:

Though regulating those maximum levels is currently prohibited by U.S. policy – because dietary supplements are not categorized as drugs, it is one more sign that global governance of our foods is right around the corner. As if American households relinquishing their health and fitness habits to Washington weren’t enough, now the entire U.S. needs to be governed by a global food and drug administration?

U.S. food policy may not acquiesce to worldwide regulations tomorrow, but global control is a slippery slope that is often yielded through small steps or so-called benign increments. The European Union has already enacted many universal food tenets into law. Could the U.S. be that far behind in this global age? If an era in which caving into international pressure is en vogue, how far behind are our food factories?

But does the U.S. really want foreign entities telling us how to eat, what vitamins to take or how (not) to label U.S. food now or in the distant future? I’ll say what I said in a previous column: I believe, the sooner we quit relinquishing our health and fitness responsibilities over to the government, and take control of our own lives, the better off we’ll be.

And Chuck really doesn’t like GMOs, either:

The added difficulty with genetic tampering and labels is that we know big business and lobbying often control the decisions in Washington. Recently that was made evident again by the actions of the USDA. Despite that tests prove genetically engineered organisms become a part of the bacteria in our digestive tracts, the ANH reported how the USDA now wants to eliminate any controls from genetically altered corn and cotton!

Rather interesting, don’t you think, how someone like Chuck Norris can so easily sound like a greenie? Even the anti-science generally associated with the left seems to have found a home in some parts of the right.

Of course, he’d never admit it, and being a greenie is in general anathema to conservatives. Indeed, another aspect of science that the right tends to attack is environmental science used as the basis for environmental regulations. Their favorite tactic is what Chris aptly called “poison is in the dose” games in which arguments over what the maximum safe level of an environmental pollutant is nearly always devolve into conservative think tanks and critics accusing environmentalists of exaggerating the risk trying to tar them with the “anti-science” label simply because they take a more cautious view of what constitutes a safe environmental exposure. And, yes, sometimes environmentalists do overstate the danger of certain environmental pollutants. Indeed, these days I’ve started to suspect that this might well be the case with BPA. However, I still tend to trust environmentalists a lot more than I trust industry to do the science and develop guidelines.

I’ve said it many times, but what the heck? I’ll say it again. I used to be a lot more conservative politically than I am now. Even though I was an independent and never declared for a party, I tended to vote pretty reliably Republican, except when I lived in Ohio and voted for John Glenn for Senate, which was pretty much the same thing as voting Republican. Then, about ten years ago, something changed. Whether it was me or whether it was the Republican Party, I’m not sure, but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party. It left me. And its increasing hostility to science is one big way in which the Republican Party left me.

Comments

  1. #1 Reuben
    September 30, 2011

    I, too, used to be far more conservative than I am now. I even swallowed – for a while – the notion that Obama was going to lead us to a worse, more socialist place. But that only lasted about a minute. Anyone who looks at things critically can see through the spin, the talking points.

    The problem is that too many people are truly indoctrinated to the party line. I’m talking about people who really do believe that Social Security is unconstitutional, that people who take risks should pay for them with their lives, and that big business is running things in Washington yet shouldn’t be taxed because intervening in capitalism is un-American. Those people are downright scary.

    Yes, those three things I mentioned have nothing to do with science. But the science denialism they display has something in common with those political notions. Namely, all those ideas lack evidence and even reason. What reasonable person would think that Obama went through the vetting process for becoming a Senator and then President WITHOUT BEING A NATURAL-BORN US CITIZEN?!!!

    The thing that troubles me most at this moment in history is that the state of the economy is dictating who gets voted in… With Republicans in Congress bending over backwards to block everything that could work and offering nothing of their own, I don’t see how the President will hold on to the office.

  2. #2 Neil Craig
    September 30, 2011

    Oh well if its anti-science you are concerned about:

    The Greg Laden site on the string of related American sites called “Scienceblogs” is arguably the most prominent.

    Greg is a catastrophic warming supporter, which is his right. He censors opposing views or even questions put courteously which is his right because, as he explains its his site, though incompatible with any claim to “science”.

    He has claimed to be opposed to censorship. saying “Censorship is the second to last refuge of tyrants, the last is violence” (#23) a refreshingly liberal (in the true meaning of the term) viewpoint on “scienceblogs” where 9 sites, at last count, promote censorship. Rather than answer the 7 questions any climate alarmist should be able to easily answer if it is true, he simply censored them.

    Note that he does not delete ad homs or indeed obscenity, which are clearly, after all, the stock in trade of climate alarmist “scientists”, particularly those “peer reviewed and published in the finest journals” http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2011/07/ever (#5) (although he did censor some criticisms made in return, neither ad hom nor remotely obscene since I don’t find that persuasive). Indeed, while censoring me, he recently passed a comment that I should be glad Greg hasn’t come round to my house and cut off my head which is the last argument he allegedly disapproves of.

    It is his choice to run his site that way. However he does worse than that.
    Greg has also claimed to be the sole scientist anywhere in the world who supports warming catastrophism and is not paid by the state. Not one single cent.

    He has also claimed to be a “climate scientist”.

    Indeed he has been given numerous opportunities to say the “misspoke” (a la Clinton), panicked or that the claim needs “clarifying” (a term often used by British politicians caught lying). He has, repeatedly, stood by his claim.

    But

    Greg Laden is a Biological Anthropologist, studying human evolution, with degrees from Harvard University. He has taught at several universities, including Harvard and is currently a part time Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. He is an independent scholar who blogs athttp://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/. http://myudaily.com/volblogs/newscommentary/religionspirituality/greg-laden-an-interview-with-a-biological-anthropologist-and-blogger/

    Not a wise move when elsewhere claiming to be a climate scientist receiving not one cent from government. Though his “scienceblogs” bio is replete with “did I mention Harvard”‘s it is astonishingly less forthcoming about his present role as a part time assistant teacher at Minnesota U.

    University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (U of M) is a public research university and A public university is one that is predominantly funded by public means

    So the alleged only scientist anywhere in the world who supports warming catastrophism while receiving not a cent from the government is actually an assistant teacher of anthropology, largely or entirely paid by said government (at what I understand Americans call a “cow college” rather than Harvard).

    Laden has clearly, deliberately and continuously lied and if the entire “scienceblogs” site and anybody connected is not to it is not to be wholly discredited as not being in any way connected to scientific principles it is impossible he could remain on it.
    ========================

    Knowing a little about anthropology in academe in Britain I can say that it is largely a matter of keeping ones tongue between the cheeks of those above you on the ladder while refusing to notice any scientific evidence which does not suit the politically correct paradigm (admittedly difficult to do otherwise in such a position). Rather than being a real science it is very much the sort of “science” Richard Feynman described in his “Cargo Cult Science” lecture.

    Perhaps American anthropology is totally different and a real science.

    Perhaps his interest in (and possible limited understanding of CAGW) is inspired by coworkers, friends and neighbours. I haven’t visited Minnesota and it may be a warm place with a large coastal area which would explain the local’s interest in the possible bad effects of warming. Indeed it must be so because pathetic as it is to lie on the subject it would be unbelievably pathetic to lie in a way that will not impress coworkers and neighbours.

  3. #3 JakeS
    September 30, 2011

    There are really three main branches of argument against GMOs on “the left,” and only one of them is obviously garbage:

    First, GMOs are painted as being unsafe to consume. This is so wildly implausible, and so contradicted by available evidence, that it’s probably fair to call it an antiscience position.

    Second, GMOs are argued to be an environmental hazard, because they will contaminate the local flora. Which is a lot more convincing in terms of prior probability, and a lot more difficult to study in a controlled environment (you can study it after the fact, but that is… unhelpful and expensive, shall we say, if the plant turns out to be problematic). The fact that US-based companies are pushing for the legalisation of these products through the WTO – a nakedly partisan institution – does not help to reassure skeptics of the soundness of their environmental impact testing.

    But the most compelling argument is actually not about science or technology. It’s about the economics of GMOs. Specifically, GMOs have three highly problematic effects: (a) They increase the power of the large seed suppliers over small farmers (even further than is the case today). (b) The business model of GMOs requires an expansion of intellectual enclosures, and more draconian enforcement of same. Since intellectual enclosure laws are already ridiculously biased towards incumbent interests, this is an area of great concern. (c) GMOs promote monoculture farming, with intense use of fertiliser and pesticides. Overuse of fertiliser and pesticides is a persistent problem for freshwater environments, and monoculture is an elaborate form of specieswide Russian roulette: The more similar Ukrainian, American and South African wheat crops are, the greater a fraction of the wheat output of the world will be lost when (not if) something goes seriously wrong.

    None of the economic problems with GMOs have much of anything to do with the technology per se. They have to do with the business models that GMOs are currently deployed in support of.

    - Jake

  4. #4 Andrew Dodds
    September 30, 2011

    The problem as I see it is this:

    Political parties need you to vote for them. However, they also need to be funded. And the people/organisations who fund the parties would often like policies that are not particularly electable.

    Now, when organized labour funded one party and small business/individuals the other, you would have two fairly broad masses of funders, so the divergence would be small. Hence the politicians only have to lie and disappoint a bit.

    Unfortunately, over the past few decades, we’ve reached the point where this doesn’t hold (this is not just a US phenomenon). So parties, especially of the right, cannot campaign on policies, because those policies would be massively unpopular. Instead they campaign on ‘values’. So we end up with people repeatedly voting for parties that act against their interests..

  5. #5 Paul
    September 30, 2011

    Orac “When you start seeing Democratic senators or Representatives parroting animal rights nonsense or antivax talking-points on the House or Senate floor, then you might–I repeat, might–be able to argue persuasively that there’s some sort of equivalence between the anti-science left and anti-science right.”

    Actually you’re as likely to see Republican politicians using animal rights inspired rhetoric as Democrats these days, a good example being the McCain Coburn report on federal stimulus spending last year http://speakingofresearch.com/2010/09/08/speaking-up-who-does-%E2%80%98no-comment%E2%80%99-work-for/

    This is probably why the “Great Ape Protection Act.” was given a Tea-party friendly makeover to become the “Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act” this year.

  6. #6 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    This has been particularly true ever since the campaign for the Republican nomination has shifted into high gear and Michelle Bachmann’s recent decent even further into pseudoscience with her apparent embrace of anti-vaccine nuttiness.

    There is nothing decent about Michelle Bachmann.

    Reuben @1

    big business is running things in Washington yet shouldn’t be taxed because intervening in capitalism is un-American.

    The Chuck Norris quote is a prime example of this contradictory lunacy. This is what has always amazed me about right wing libertarians. They want to reduce government control over their lives while handing unlimited power and control to corporations.

  7. #7 Allie
    September 30, 2011

    When it’s “for the children” you can bet that the lunacy will cross party lines. This goes for antivax, non “medicalized” and dangerous homebirths, and even homeschooling (which almost never results in decent scientific education). On one side, you have “noble savage” hippies. On the other side, you have Quiverfull dominionists.

    But while the Obamas are saying “sure, plant an organic garden with heirloom tomatoes” and other harmless stuff, Bachmann et al are saying don’t teach your kids science or let them have vaccines. One of these things is NOT like the others.

  8. #8 Composer99
    September 30, 2011

    From an historical perspective, I perceive, in the US at least, that the Democrats were able to resist being dominated by the anti-rational countercultural left when that force emerged in the second half of the 20th century, whereas the Republicans have been ploughed under by the countercultural right, such that the Republican party is at the present time hopelessly in thrall to its most extreme wing(s).

  9. #9 BKsea
    September 30, 2011

    One big difference between left and right is that the right wants to legislate its anti-science views into the education curriculum. This includes calling for creationism or “teaching the controversy” on global warming. I can’t think of any such appeals from the left.

    And, count me as a former conservative driven away by the anti-science views of the right. Oddly, this has led me to become more and more liberal in economic and social aspects as well.

  10. #10 Bronze Dog
    September 30, 2011

    About a decade ago, I would have said that each party had their own niches for woo. The Republicans had Creationism and global warming denialism, and the Democrats had “alternative medicine” and general newage (rhymes with sewage) people.

    Since joining the skeptical community, I’ve noticed more and more right wing and/or libertarian rhetoric used by alties to support their beliefs. They rail against regulation, try to use market success to measure efficacy, and worse, many treat children the way faith healers do: They don’t seem to care about finding out what will help the child and seem to care more about reinforcing indoctrination, whether that indoctrination is to a “traditional” Christian religion or an “exotic” guru that used to be associated with the left. I definitely see a fair bit of authoritarianism as well, trusting in alleged experts, rather than the evidence.

    I suspect the bit about “left” altie gurus may have shifted to the right by de-emphasizing the multicultural aspects. There was a time I expected alties to overtly play the race and culture cards by claiming that we’re biased against the cultural origin of a practice, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen such direct accusations. Usually, they leave it to calling science “western,” which is starting to look more like a knee-jerk habit, rather than a deliberate attempt to make it about race or culture. Kind of like “allopathy” with homeopaths. They’re so used to sloganized thinking that they forgot what the slogan was about.

  11. #11 Richard
    September 30, 2011

    But what about integrative medicine? It seems to me that, in the case of IM, the inmates are running the asylum. I hope I’m wrong.

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    September 30, 2011

    The merchants of woo I survey manage to straddle the political divide picking and choosing from both sides of the aisle like diners at a buffet: for you see cash ( or charge) has no political affiliation. Their bottom line is precisely that: the bottom line. I’ll present this conundrum: first however, I have to put on my Wellies as I hate wading through muck:

    Both Adams and Null support Ron Paul, whose small government libetarianism appeals to both entrepreneurs and Tea Party-ists. Health Freedom lovers declare the right of anyone to play doctor or pharmacist and the government should keep their hands off! Our woo-meisters like low taxes which will preserve their right to avoid progressive income taxation * like the plague it is* while they stimulate the economy with their gains : creating jobs! Government shouldn’t interfere with Business’ right to prosper by imprisoning them through regulations, minimum wages, workers’ rights.

    These idiots also tend to support liberal-friendly positions like environmentalism, animal rights ( vegans), support for AGW which fits in nicely with their anti-corporatism**, rights for women, minorities, gays/ lesbians ( all potential customers), anti-war ( fits in with libertarians’ cuts of government spending, and New Agey-ish spirituality/ nature worship. Right now, Null is initiating a global anti-nuclear movement.

    So what are they really? Null oxymoronically calls his new party “Progessive Libertarianism”. Yes, both are calling for an uprising of the People via a new third party.

    At heart both advocate the rule of pseudo-science and tearing down the establishment, be it governmental, scientific, educational, or social. “They’re all elitists!” Here is the fabled point where right wing extremism meets left wing extremism in a sickening Mobius ring or suchlike. Anti-SBM, anti-vaxx, HIV/AIDS denialism, germ theory denialism, anti-science: Big Dreams for big wankers.

    ** corporations cause AGW and autism; funny but I thought their Paulism made them *like* corporations… well, their own.

  13. #13 Roadstergal
    September 30, 2011

    I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately, as well. I’ve traditionally been a leftie, and an outspoken one, and one of the reasons was because the right was so openly anti-science, from Reagan on. (Another biggie being the whole human-rights things vis-a-vis poor people, ethnic minorities, gays, women, etc.)

    Yet the more I get involved with political activism, the more disillusioned I get. I’m not sure if it’s always been like this, and I just never saw it – maybe getting more involved has put me in touch with the rabid. But the anti-science on the left is really pissing me off. From the anti-vaxxers to the naturopaths to the acupuncturists to the supplement hawkers and…

    Interesting that you mention GMO – there was a CREDO action sent around my leftist friends recently that asked you to sign an anti-GMO petition. I took a look at the footnotes that supported their Scare Facts, and they linked to a Daily Mail article, a HuffPo article, and a letter published on the Internet. FFS. I’m open to being convinced, but not with that dreck.

    It’s pissing me off, though, in the sense of ‘we don’t have to be like this’ – the rights and libs have anti-science covered. Can’t the left take the pro-science stand?

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    September 30, 2011

    @ BKsea:

    Welcome to the Dark Side! ( fourth generation, moderate liberal)

  15. #15 Travis
    September 30, 2011

    Roadstergal,
    I have had plenty of similar problems with my fellow lefty travellers. It drives me nuts, I hate seeing it, but I try to speak out clearly and calmly whenever I see anti-science or anti-rational thought creeping in.

  16. #16 David N. Brown
    September 30, 2011

    “Stem cell science? Nope. That’s against our fundamentalist religion! Reproductive health issues? Abstinence, baby.”

    These don’t really belong with evolution or global warming. Those are areas where scientific theories are disputed. With birth control and especially stem cells, the issue isn’t whether an idea will work, but what the social and moral implications are.

    David N. Brown
    Mesa, Arizona

  17. #17 Daniel J. Andrews
    September 30, 2011

    This fear about a one-world government also has a religious base as well as whatever political ideology opposes it. Extreme fundamentalists with their modern day interpretation of Revelation believe that the coming Tribulation (the one they may be raptured before, during, or after, depending on the stream of thought) will be preceded by a one world government run by the AntiChrist. They feel it is their duty to oppose a one world government.

    On the other hand, these extremists also have an opposite tendency to encourage or look forward to the signs that herald the coming Tribulation and end of the world. Every time there is a major earthquake, you’ll find articles galore saying earthquakes are increasing as predicted in Matthew (the USGS says they aren’t), it is such a tragedy, yet Christians can rejoice because the Day is near.

    Some of those pushing for the state of Israel were doing so because the return of the Jews to a homeland state were considered part of Biblical prophecy in line with God preparing his people (the Jews) for his Kingdom (the Jews were going to realize Jesus was the Messiah and many of them would be saved en masse), which was also a sign of the coming of the end of the world/Tribulation/rapture (the outcome again depending on the particular stream of ideology or interpretation).

    Given that, I often wonder why they don’t embrace the one world government idea? It would simply mean their time to exit the earth via Rapture is nearer, wouldn’t it? I’d like to see some reporter having fun following up with the candidates on these lines of thought. Be interesting to see if they tie themselves into contradictory knots.

  18. #18 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    Denice Walter

    These idiots also tend to support liberal-friendly positions like environmentalism, animal rights ( vegans), support for AGW which fits in nicely with their anti-corporatism**, rights for women, minorities, gays/ lesbians ( all potential customers), anti-war ( fits in with libertarians’ cuts of government spending, and New Agey-ish spirituality/ nature worship. Right now, Null is initiating a global anti-nuclear movement.

    And we have another contradiction from your *favourite* woo Meister.

  19. #19 Vicki
    September 30, 2011

    David @5:

    The abstinence stuff isn’t just about the moral implications of an idea. Abstinence “education” has been proven not to work even on its own terms: it does not convince teenagers to delay sexual activity. Instead, it increases the chance that they will engage in unprotected sex. If your goal is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, abstinence “education” is a failure. If your goal is to prevent AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, and other infections, abstinence “education” doesn’t work.

    Even if I stipulated that persuading people to delay sexual activity or have fewer partners was desirable (which I don’t in general), abstinence “education” doesn’t work. Students who sit through those programs do not have less sex, or fewer partners, or start later: they do have more unprotected sex.

    Those are facts.

    Abstinence “education” also doesn’t teach people to choose partners, or to say “I will do this but not that” (not even “I will have sex with you but only if you wear a condom,” much less choosing what they actually enjoy, when and only when they want it), or to respect a “no” from someone who agreed to have sex with them in the past. It’s not trying to: the people who design it don’t want young women and men who actually make their own choices, and don’t consider themselves contaminated by sex.

    That’s where the ethical disagreements lie, and I think the people promoting this stuff are profoundly unethical: but in the places where we can agree, namely preventing disease and unwanted pregnancy, their methods don’t work.

  20. #20 Erika
    September 30, 2011

    It’s amusing to me that you quoted WND–just last week I told someone that NaturalNews.com is the WND of the alt-health movement. Apparently WND doesn’t want anyone coopting their nuttiness mantle, so they’re embracing the health/science-related stuff, too…

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    September 30, 2011

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    Exactly. Both idiots have the same positions on both issues!
    You see, nuclear power is expensive and *dangerous*, oil and gas are expensive, not sustainable, and cause war, coal is dirty and un-sustainable…
    But the sun’s energy is pure and free! Almost spiritual!
    The earth lovingly provides us with geo-thermal and the power of the winds and tides…
    And they’re all free!
    Easy to use!
    Sustainable!

    Pardon me, I need to stop laughing I have an appointment.

  22. #22 Anonymous
    September 30, 2011

    I think that this is very one sided view of the story. It would have been nice to see a repubican view that wasn’t being hit with democratic views. It wasn’t the polictics of anti-science but rather the democratic view of anti-science.

  23. #23 JakeS
    September 30, 2011

    Actually, there’s no particularly convincing technical reason oil, gas and coal cannot be completely replaced by wind, solar and various forms of hydro. Nuclear is, at most, a bridging technology, and a dubious one at that on proliferation and waste management grounds.

    A technology does not become safe, economical and effective just because the nuts oppose it.

    - Jake

  24. #24 daedalus2u
    September 30, 2011

    Ah Jake, if you actually understood the science behind farming and GMOs, you would be able to see through the BS in your argument #3. Virtually all high volume GMO crops are hybrids. Hybrid maize, hybrid sugar beets, hybrid cotton.

    “Today, somewhere around 99 percent of U.S. corn is grown from hybrid seed. The same is true for wheat, soybeans, grain sorghum, cotton, peanuts, and many other crops.”

    http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/crops_03.html

    Hybrid seed is generated by taking the pollen from one inbred plant and using it to generate seeds in another plant, the two F0 parents. The seeds grow into the F1 plants which exhibit hybrid vigor and which have greatly improved yield. If you plant seeds from the F1 plants, you don’t get hybrid vigor and you don’t get the yields of the F1 plants. Because of that, farmers buy new seed every year. The buying of new seed every year has nothing to do with intellectual property rights, it has to do with getting hybrid seed with high yields.

  25. #25 Gerard Harbison
    September 30, 2011

    And, yes, sometimes environmentalists do overstate the danger of certain environmental pollutants. Indeed, these days I’ve started to suspect that this might well be the case with BPA

    Ya think?

  26. #26 perturbed
    September 30, 2011

    The trouble with the Global Warming/Climate Change crowd, at least in Australia, is that their public faces are overfond of the appeal to authority, and have descended to near-religious levels of written and verbal diarrhoea to defend the position of “what will happen if we don’t introduce an ETS / a carbon tax / horrendously expensive solar/wind subsidies RIGHT NOW”. One of them advocated the suspension of democratic process, and another expressed the viewpoint that those who find fault with climate science “as presented” should be gassed to death with carbon monoxide. These people have left science a long way behind, and question the morality of anyone who expresses doubts that they methods they espouse will work.

    Personally I think the non-anthropogenic forcing factors are dominant, the models are flawed to the point of uselessness, and the solutions espoused by the current Australian Government are equally useless (Cf. urinating in the ocean). I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, but I do mind being declared some sort of enemy of the state and told I shouldn’t state my opinion or question the orthodoxy by the people in power who claim to have the high moral ground. “What about…” is the most scientifically valid question on earth.

  27. #27 Scott Cunningham
    September 30, 2011

    Mooney made a good point about that left-wing willingness to tear into past allies when they are wrong keeping the anti-science marginalized. The lack of critical voices in the right and the way dissent is suppressed as betrayal makes it an unhealthy environment of denial and groupthink.

    But then what would I know? I’m another (Canadian) former right-winger turned leftist. Keep thinking in the box, people. The box is safe, the oustide world scary.

  28. #28 squirrelelite
    September 30, 2011

    Also for JakeS,

    I mainly agree on points 1 and 2.

    However, on point 3, a number of GMO crops are being developed for changing environmental conditions (drought, pests, etc.) in specific regions. For instance, I have read in alumni newsletters that my alma mater, Michigan State University, has an ongoing program to develop GMO crops to cope with increasing drought in East Africa.

    I doubt if those crops would do well in Kansas although this year (10 inches of rain by June) might be an exception.

  29. #29 palindrom
    September 30, 2011

    perturbed @25

    “Personally I think the non-anthropogenic forcing factors are dominant, the models are flawed to the point of uselessness, ”

    While you’re at it, you might as well share your opinion on the likely mass range of the Higgs boson, the pros and cons of various dark matter candidates, and leptogenesis in the electroweak phase transition.

  30. #30 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    @25
    I noticed you have no citations/evidence for your outrageous ad-hominem claims.

    Personally I think the non-anthropogenic forcing factors are dominant,

    Spoken like a creationist/antivaxxer – News for you – reality doesn’t care what you personally think and reality is far far more likely to be in accordance with the consensus of the scientists working in the field than it is to be in accordance with your ill informed opinion.

  31. #31 Ryan Biggs
    September 30, 2011

    Interesting that Chuck is angry that the government might regulate nutritional supplements, but he is also angry that they aren’t regulating GMOs.

  32. #32 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    palindrome @30

    I would share my (ill informed) opinion of the “leptogenesis in the electroweak phase transition” if I knew what the hell you were talking about.

    As to the first 2 items – The first one is a trick question. Higgs Boson does not exist – it is a fraud perpetrated by a cabal of thousands of physicists in order to get grant money. I will now probably be threatened with death via a beam of high energy protons for saying this. Dark energy is what will allow us to pump heat trapping gasses into the atmosphere without increasing the temperature of the earth.

  33. #33 David N. Brown
    September 30, 2011

    @18,
    The limited effectiveness of “abstinence” messages is known and openly discussed among those who support them. The main reaction has been to try to improve and adapt, rather than abandoning the venture. But, whether technology is effective in preventing pregnancy (which is equally an issue for married couples) or preventing the spread of disease has never been the sole or central question.

    Going back more to the original topic, I think much of the problem lies in the weakening of Republican leadership since at least the last presidential election. Witness the handling of immigration issues: W. Bush and McCain both spoke out for policies that would focus on the minority of immigrants who actively commit crimes rather than deporting evey illegal in sight. But, the Republican constituency rebelled, and McCain backpedalled. That, I believe, was the start of a slippery slope, and the “Tea Party” is pretty well the bottom of it, where any nut can get a place at the table just by showing up.

  34. #34 Roadstergal
    September 30, 2011

    A good friend of mine GMed an RPG recently that was set aboard a spaceship she named the “Higgs Bo’sun.”

  35. #35 tim gueguen
    September 30, 2011

    Then you get guys like Pentti Linkola. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentti_Linkola Left wing? Right wing? Definitely a kook.

  36. #36 madder
    September 30, 2011

    @David N. Brown:

    Perhaps you would support the “abstinence-plus” efforts; if so, I can understand that inclination. But the widespread objection to “abstinence-only” education is two-pronged. Like Vicki pointed out above, it doesn’t work. In addition, much of the abstinence-only material being used in schools, that was federally funded under Bush, was simply incorrect at best, and outright lies at worst. (That link is to a Congressional report on their content.) So yes, “abstinence” does indeed belong in the list of topics germane to Orac’s post.

  37. #37 Michael
    September 30, 2011

    One of my pet peeves is labelling people who oppose animal testing, or stem cell research, or abortion as “anti-science”. Can you think of an experiment that proves animal testing or abortion is moral? Of course not. If you want to criticize them when they get their facts wrong, fine, but the rightness or wrongness of their central positions are outside the domain of science. (As opposed to global warming, or the claims that vaccines cause autism, which can be tested scientifically.)

  38. #38 Orac
    September 30, 2011

    What about when animal rights activists twist science to support their preconceived moral view? I consider that to be pretty “anti-science.” For example:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/bad_scientific_arguments_in_the_service.php

  39. #39 Roadstergal
    September 30, 2011

    I think that comes under the umbrella of ‘criticizing them when they get their facts wrong.’

    However, for many folk who hold anti-abortion or anti-stem-cell-research views, it seems that the basic premise on which they base their anti-abortion or anti-stem-cell-reseearch views is fundamentally anti-science – the idea that a collection of pluripotent cells without organization can be possessed of a consciousness.

  40. #40 palindrom
    September 30, 2011

    Militant Agnostic @31 — Ha ha — I hope!

    My point, of course, was that the poster’s personal opinion about a complicated, deeply technical scientific question is worth precisely nothing, unless he or she is thoroughly versed in the technical issues involved. Pretty much what you said, more directly and forcefully, in your post #29.

    I’m a physical scientist and wouldn’t claim to understand all these issues well myself — but those portions of the elephant that this particular blind man can get his hands on are clearly excellent work by excellent people. I think particularly of Raymond Pierrehumbert’s very nice summary of how CO2 alters radiative transfer in the atmosphere, which he published in Physics Today in January; it’s reprinted at

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/%7Ertp1/papers/PhysTodayRT2011.pdf

  41. #41 Poodle Stomper
    September 30, 2011

    Despite that tests prove genetically engineered organisms become a part of the bacteria in our digestive tracts, the ANH reported how the USDA now wants to eliminate any controls from genetically altered corn and cotton!

    Wait, I’m confused. So I eat GMO corn and it turns into bacteria in my GI tract and then colonizes me? Man, someone give Chuck a Nobel Prize for that discovery!

  42. #42 David N. Brown
    September 30, 2011

    @35:
    I really don’t have strong feelings about “sex education”. I don’t see providing basic information as warranting moral objections, especially when said information is relevant in the context of monogamous heterosexual marriage. From much of the commentary I have seen, that primarily written from a Christian perspective, the most difficult issues are (to put it VERY delicately) practices other than conventional intercourse. It has been recognized that such practices are often adopted as “loopholes” in the abstinence ideology. It seems to me that there is also a serious problem with people who are well-informed about sexuality per se being scientifically ignorant of even more fundamental biology, esp. disease vectors.

  43. #43 Wiki
    September 30, 2011

    This article is incorrect in attempting to dichotomize religion and science. I would encourage the author of this article (and others) to read the following article: http://conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_the_suppression_of_science

    “It’s not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the unitiated. Moreover, that Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” -Richard Lewontin

  44. #44 JustaTech
    September 30, 2011

    I find it useful to think about the political spectrum as a circle (or, on a bad day, a sphere). If you go far enough right or left evenutally you meet up in the back in crazy land.

  45. #45 TBruce
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki:

    Conservapedia? You must be kidding.

  46. #46 Chris
    September 30, 2011

    TBruce, that was exactly my reaction to Wiki. It is hard to believe that Andy Schlafly actually has an undergraduate engineering degree. But then again, there are too many engineers who seem to think their education makes them qualified in other fields (Gary Goldman, Andy Cutler, etc).

  47. #47 Narad
    September 30, 2011

    It’s not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the unitiated. Moreover, that Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    I hate to break this to you, but neither monist idealism nor simply tossing ontology under the bus to start with, thus eliminating “materialism” entirely, causes “material explanations” to go bye-bye.

  48. #48 Ellen Mary
    September 30, 2011

    Re: GMOs. There is the feed the world, reduce pesticide/herbicide use fantasy & there is the REALITY. Right now the main & pervasive GMOs are Round Up Ready Corn & Soy. They are M*ns*nto’s joint marketing ventures with herbicides. Check out the impact of Bt Cotton in India. The slavish ‘science for sciences sake’ on the left that borders on Worship & ignores the actual reality & economics for the vauge promise & phony idealism is what disillusioned me with the Dems.

  49. #49 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki is either a poor Poe or totally oatmeal. Either way, don’t encourage it.

  50. #50 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    September 30, 2011

    Ellen Mary @#47: Thank you for your demonstration of Orac’s point and the subsequent addenda in the comments. Now, please back up your post, or kindly begone.

  51. #51 Wiki
    September 30, 2011

    Pinkamena, TBruce and Chris,

    It would do you better to actually read the article and look at the numerous footnotes if you have any doubt. It is a fact that under the militant state atheism of the USSR, Big Bang Cosmology was banned due to its theistic implications. Fred Hoyle, in the West, was also troubled by a creation epoch as well, which is why he theorized the Steady State. You can choose to be one sided if you’d like; after all, some individuals feel strongly about their beliefs, whether atheist or beleiver. However, I will be objective and state that both religious fundamentalists and militant atheists have suppressed objective science for the sake of their ideology throughout history.

  52. #52 TBruce
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki:

    I did read the article, much to my sorrow. Here it is in summary:

    – Communists suppress science.
    – Communists profess to be atheists.
    – Therefore atheists suppress science.

    Bonus – external links to Lee Strobel and Harun Yahya!

    Lotsa footnotes, but it’s gold leaf on a turd.

  53. #53 Chris
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki, it is classic cherry picking. The author came up with a conclusion, and then found selected data supporting that conclusion. It is a silly conclusion, and has nothing to do with real science.

  54. #54 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki the Pacific Tree Octopus

    Fred Hoyle, in the West, was also troubled by a creation epoch as well, which is why he theorized the Steady State.

    Which is why all the militant atheist scientists rewarded him with a Nobel prize – oh wait – his collaborator William A Fowler got the Nobel for nucleosynthesis while Hoyle was overlooked, in part for being such a douchebag with respect to Big Bang Cosmology. I also see you are playing the McArthy era atheism = communism card.

  55. #55 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    Chris @52

    The author came up with a conclusion, and then found selected data supporting that conclusion.

    Isn’t that the MO of Conservapedia? It is also the MO of reich wing religious fundamentalists with respect to the bible. They cherry pick bible passages to support their greed and bigotry.

  56. #56 Mike
    September 30, 2011

    Orac,
    It is a shame you staked your well deserved reputation by posting this dribble. I agree with you ultimate conclusion that the right is worse than the left, but you deliberately ignored issues on the left. Organic is one of the biggest anti-science quackeries being peddled and you made no mention of it. Organic is rather relevant in this discussion as current white house grounds now has an organic garden. How odd, a point that disproves part of your conclusion is deliberately left off.

    You are right that democratic congress people have not spouted anti vaccer views. But they have spouted pro-organic and pro-alternative medicine views. Those positions are clearly anti-science.

  57. #57 Chris
    September 30, 2011

    Cripes, Mike! I first thought you were ranting against organic chemistry!

  58. #58 Wiki
    September 30, 2011

    TBruce, et. al.:

    You are missing the point. It does not matter what you personally believe or not. Big Bang cosmology was suppressed under the militant state atheism of the USSR because of its theistic implications, and was rejected by Fred Hoyle for the same reason. I understand that this does not mean all atheists hold this view (obviously, they do not). However, apply the same standard to religionists as well – many individuals believe that science and faith walk in harmony with one another, despite the fact that a fundamentalist minority dichotomizes mainstream science and theology. As such, it is unfair of the writer of this article to present religion and faith as mutually exclusive.

  59. #59 Chris
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki, so what?

  60. #60 Tamakazura
    September 30, 2011

    I kind of get where you are coming from, global warming denying Aussie. I think agw is real and know enough to know that people who say it is know more than I do about it. I think where I get a bit skeptical is when people make predictions about the future regarding AGW. This really turns me off. Global weather is such a fractally intricate system that I don’t think anyone can make any hard and fast predictions…and people who think they can are probably overlooking something–or trying to sell something. I try to minimize my own waste for the sake of making the world a nicer place. I don’t like seeing or stepping in trash and I don’t like breathing smoke. It’s not that I’m trying to forstall the apocalypse.
    I also think that the laws we have now have too many loopholes. For example, why do I have to get my car smogged but the truck in front of me is exempted? Surely if an individual can be expected to bear the cost of environmental regulations, it would not be asking too much for a business to do the same.

  61. #61 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2011

    Wiki the Pacific Tree Octopus

    As such, it is unfair of the writer of this article to present religion and faith as mutually exclusive.

    WTF? Could you make any less sense?* BTW, Fred Hoyle (who you tout as some kind of militant atheist)was both somewhat religious and a major crackpot during the later part of his life.

    *Please don’t take this as challenge.

  62. #62 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    October 1, 2011

    Wiki, I have read Conservapedia. It’s crap. Factless, logic-challenged, crank-citing ponyshit. Anypony who reads it and isn’t already utterly convinced that it’s right and everypony else is wrong sees through it. I stand by my previous assertion: You are 100% bat guano, full-on oatmeal crazy.

    And no, I’m not being entirely serious as I address your raving lunacy. Yes, I’m using this pony-referencing thing to show you how little I think of you. In my estimation, you aren’t even worth the full brunt of my wrath. That is how little you matter.

  63. #63 Ken
    October 1, 2011

    Ryan Biggs @30: Interesting that Chuck is angry that the government might regulate nutritional supplements, but he is also angry that they aren’t regulating GMOs.

    Hypothesis: Chuck wants to make money selling nutritional supplements, but has no plans to market GMOs.

  64. #64 TBruce
    October 1, 2011

    I understand that this does not mean all atheists hold this view (obviously, they do not).

    I guess you had me fooled, after all, that’s exactly what the article you reference implies.

    This article is incorrect in attempting to dichotomize religion and science.

    Would you please show us where this is done?

  65. #65 Chris
    October 1, 2011

    Wiki:

    As such, it is unfair of the writer of this article to present religion and faith as mutually exclusive.

    I did not read that in the article. It only referred to the Republicans having a “religion of anti-science.” Mostly in the paragraph that contained:

    That’s not even considering the anti-science positions that are de rigeur for Republican candidates. Evolution? No way! God did it! Anthropogenic global warming? Nope! Accepting global warming science displeases our corporate masters and our anti-environmentalist base! Stem cell science? Nope. That’s against our fundamentalist religion! Reproductive health issues? Abstinence, baby. Abstinence.

    That is exactly what the communists of the USSR did to other areas of science. So, in a sense, Wiki is accusing the conservative Republicans of being atheists. And if we take Wiki’s observations up to full tilt crazy, then Ken Ham is an atheist.

    The acceleration of gravity does not change on what a person declares to be their religion (or non-religion). Nature simply does not care. It does not even care what the political parties have to say.

    Persons from all over the religious spectrum have varying observations about science. It does not matter where someone goes to worship (or not), but whether or not they understand the basic concepts.

  66. #66 Composer99
    October 1, 2011

    I think that Wiki’s sole useful contribution to the thread is to remind all and sundry of the importance of skepticism as an aide to rational thought and sound policy-making (as contrasted with gullibility on one hand and denialism on the other).

    The “militant atheists” of the USSR and the religion-inspired Republicans share a common authoritarian mindset which leaves them vulnerable to anti-science dogmas.

    Wiki has inaccurately pegged Orac’s framing as one of Republican’s religion being the sole source of the domination of anti-science views, where I would view it as a toxic mixture of gullibility (the Tea Party base will seemingly accept as fact any claim, however outrageous or false, made by trusted sources such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, or the WorldNutDaily) and denialism (which Orac and others have illustrated quite nicely).

  67. #67 Happy Heyoka
    October 1, 2011

    I think all of these issues are rooted in ignorance… in my personal moral framework it’s not a sin to be ignorant – we are all unavoidably ignorant in some areas – but wilful ignorance (or encouragement of it) is a biggie.

    Bad Politicians and Woomeisters exist largely because of a constituency who aren’t prepared to do the thinking – or can’t accommodate it (I don’t have four kids or a six day a week job)… the whole anti-science, anti-intellectual thing is a political wedge.

    I’m just wired to question stuff but I’ve met lots of smart people who aren’t. I’ve also met people who won’t question because of the pressure not to (eg: talk to a fundamentalist Christian about ecology). I don’t know how you fix that.

    I think science (at it’s best) is one of our best tools for dealing with the hubris of folks who think that opinion creates reality… which of course, is a catch-22.

  68. #68 Mojo
    October 1, 2011

    @Composer99

    The “militant atheists” of the USSR and the religion-inspired Republicans share a common authoritarian mindset which leaves them vulnerable to anti-science dogmas.

    You’ll often see “anti-science dogmas” presented as anti-authoritarian, for example here:

    In favour of homeopathy are those who see themselves as anti-authoritarian, maybe a bit subversive, independent thinkers, imaginative, empathetic. They won’t be silenced, either, because crucial to this whole identity is that you won’t let the suits tell you how to think.

    The case is, though, that most woo has to be some extent authoritarian in its outlook. After all, if a system has no decent evidence behind it, what is it left with other than authority? Homoeopathy is a classic example, with the word of a dead white European male being considered to be infallible (at least by the “classical” wing of homoeopathy). See also the claims of systems like Ayurveda or TCM to be based on “ancient wisdom”. It’s just another term for authority.

  69. #69 herr doktor bimler
    October 1, 2011

    The “militant atheists” of the USSR and the religion-inspired Republicans share a common authoritarian mindset which leaves them vulnerable to anti-science dogmas.

    It worked so well for the USSR when Stalin dictated that Lysenko’s version of genetics would replace the evidence-based version.

    When Russian intellectuals accepted the Lysenko dogma, they knew that daring to disagree was a form of suicide. Republican pundits don’t have that excuse when they accept the current doctrines that AGW is a hoax and that evolutionary theory is merely a matter of opinion; all they have is cynical careerism.

  70. #70 wolfwalker
    October 1, 2011

    Heyoka: I think all of these issues are rooted in ignorance… in my personal moral framework it’s not a sin to be ignorant – we are all unavoidably ignorant in some areas – but wilful ignorance (or encouragement of it) is a biggie.

    Agreed. This very comment-thread provides several good examples. I can’t argue with Orac’s contention that the right is more anti-science than the left, and that bothers me intensely because on economic and foreign-policy subjects I agree with the right far more than I do with the left … but on the other hand, the left’s refusal to apply scientific principles to its own beliefs bothers me far more, because as people who claim to value science, leftists should know better.

    Way up in the first comment, Reuben says, “I even swallowed – for a while – the notion that Obama was going to lead us to a worse, more socialist place. But that only lasted about a minute. Anyone who looks at things critically can see through the spin, the talking points.”

    And yet, the current White House resident’s policies are explicitly socialist. By definition, socialism is a political/economic system in which society controls the means of production and distribution, almost always by means of an all-powerful State, and private enterprise is either completely subordinate to the State, or not allowed at all. That certainly sounds like what he wants to do. Well, I haven’t yet heard him advocate eliminating private enterprise, but he certainly wants it subordinate to omnipresent State regulation and control. For my part, when I strip away the loaded terminology and look only at the facts, the socio-economic system advocated by modern Democrat leaders very strongly resembles the socio-economic system developed in Italy in the 1930s.

    Reuben again: “The problem is that too many people are truly indoctrinated to the party line. I’m talking about people who really do believe that Social Security is unconstitutional,”

    Some study of constitutional law reveals that under a strict interpretation of the Constitution, much of what the federal government has done since the 1930s would be considered unconstitutional. The Founders envisioned a limited federal government with relatively few, clearly constrained powers, and anything which was not explicitly permitted was forbidden. Social Security is not authorized anywhere in Article I Section 8; neither is Medicare, Medicaid, federal control of education, federal control of housing, warrantless searches, and a long list of other things. They are considered constitutional now only because starting with Gitlow v. New York (1925), there was a massive sea-change in constitutional interpretation, and the rule became “anything which is not explicitly forbidden is permitted.” And the courts since then have often used some truly awful reasoning to reach the conclusions they wanted to reach about what is or isn’t forbidden.

    On the other side of the scale, we have people like Wiki, who claims to apply critical thinking to leftist positions, yet never thinks to apply the same critical-thinking skills to his own sources, and so he winds up getting rightly mocked for using Conservapedia as a source.

    Heyoka: I’ve also met people who won’t question because of the pressure not to (eg: talk to a fundamentalist Christian about ecology). I don’t know how you fix that.

    I don’t either. I wish I did.

  71. #71 Michael
    October 1, 2011

    @Mojo: Indeed. Most people are shocked when you tell them that homeopathy is a product of German Romanticism, and German Romanticism eventually led to Hitler.

  72. #72 Denice Walter
    October 1, 2011

    As if to prove the point, Mike Adams ( @ NaturalNews, yesterday and today),

    again ventures beyond the life sciences into the social sciences ( who can forget his memorable foray into cognitive psych?) illustrating that a bad grasp of science isn’t highly specific: a general factor must exist.

    This time it’s economics ( I feel like it’s my birthday!) fueling his anti-government and anti-mainstream media tirades. He rants about the “low IQs” of journalists , then announces his new alternate news service! And speaks about Doom and Gloom: if you ever wondered what Nouriel Roubini would sound like *if* he had no brains, sophistication, or education- this is much worse!

  73. #73 palindrom
    October 1, 2011

    wolfwalker @70:

    “And yet, the current White House resident’s policies are explicitly socialist. By definition, socialism is a political/economic system in which society controls the means of production and distribution, almost always by means of an all-powerful State, and private enterprise is either completely subordinate to the State, or not allowed at all. That certainly sounds like what he wants to do. Well, I haven’t yet heard him advocate eliminating private enterprise, but he certainly wants it subordinate to omnipresent State regulation and control. For my part, when I strip away the loaded terminology and look only at the facts, the socio-economic system advocated by modern Democrat leaders very strongly resembles the socio-economic system developed in Italy in the 1930s.”

    Hmm. It’s hard for me to believe that we live on the same planet.

  74. #74 SC (Salty Current)
    October 1, 2011

    but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party. It left me. And its increasing hostility to science is one big way in which the Republican Party left me.

    So death squads weren’t the issue for you that vaccine denialism is?

  75. #76 wolfwalker
    October 1, 2011

    palindrom: Maybe we don’t.

    I live on a Class-M world, the larger part of a double-planet system orbiting a G4 yellow star in the outer reaches of this galaxy. In the locally-dominant language, the star is called ‘Sol’ or ‘Sun,’ and the planet is known as Sol-III, Terra, or Earth. The dominant species is a highly derived version of a fairly typical body plan for large land-based organisms, with rather limited physical abilities, moderately advanced technology, some very odd notions about the nature and origins of the Universe, and a quite shocking inability to either learn from its past or project the likely future consequences of its actions.

    Where do you live?

  76. #77 delurked lurker
    October 1, 2011

    Hey wolfwalker your world sounds so much like ours:) The only difference is our star is a G2V and not a G4. How did you get here?

  77. #78 tim gueguen
    October 1, 2011

    All right, who let the libertarian in?

  78. #79 trrll
    October 1, 2011

    wolfwalker, you seem to be re-defining the terms to suit you. If, by “socialist” you genuinely mean “the United States as it has been since the Great Depression,” then by that standard Obama is a socialist, even though the policies he is implementing do not differ greatly from those followed by past “conservative” Presidents such as Nixon and Reagan. However, you should acknowledge that you are not using the word as it is normally understood in the USA, as referring to the policies of the social democracies of Europe, or even the large communist socialist nations that once existed.

    For example, the health care plan implemented by Obama follows a “free market” model that is based upon one initially proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation, and initially implemented in Massachusetts by Romney, currently a Republican candidate. Rather advocating a single-payer government plan such as that which has been so successfully implemented in Europe, and found to deliver comparable or better care than ours, he chose to go with a program that preserves the power of the large insurance firms, and to accept the huge burden of inefficiency that such a system imposes on the economy.

  79. #80 herr doktor bimler
    October 1, 2011

    In the locally-dominant language, the star is called ‘Sol’ or ‘Sun,’
    Here the name in the dominant language is “tàiyáng”.

  80. #81 Militant Agnostic
    October 1, 2011

    trrll @79

    wolfwalker, you seem to be re-defining the terms to suit you.

    Just like thingy eh.

  81. #82 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 1, 2011

    I understand about getting all your “information” from wingnut sites and keeping your fingers in your ears and going “la-la-la-la-la!!!” But Satan preserve us, how ignorant do you have to be to believe a President whose personal politics are somewhere between Eisenhower and Nixon, but has been forced to govern to the right of Nixon, is a “Socialist”, that returning the top marginal tax rate to the level it was in 2001 is “Communism”, that a Health Care Reform plan that’s a seriously watered-down version of the Dole Plan from 1993 represents a complete takeover of society by an all-powerful State, etc., etc.? Do loons like wolfwalker perform their own lobotomies, or do they really know what the reality is and are just professional liars on the Lee Atwater model?

  82. #83 Militant Agnostic
    October 1, 2011

    Rev Battleaxe

    Do loons like wolfwalker perform their own lobotomies

    Of course, probably using an air chisel – Why should they let the state or medical associations tell them who is allowed to do brain surgery or tell them what procedures can be done.

  83. #84 Narad
    October 1, 2011

    Why should they let the state or medical associations tell them who is allowed to do brain surgery or tell them what procedures can be done.

    There’s at least one photographic account of a home trepanation somewhere, just by the by. I’m little inclined to root around for it at the moment.

  84. #85 Militant Agnostic
    October 2, 2011

    Narad @84

    If you post a link to that photographic account of a home trepanation I for one will be “little inclined” to follow it.

  85. #86 Candy
    October 2, 2011
  86. #87 Candy
    October 2, 2011

    Posted a link for Narad & Militant Agnostic, but it’s held up in moderation. Found a little ditty on YouTube for trepanation practitioners to listen to while working. :)

    As to wolfwalker’s statement that any plan of our right-wing president is socialist in any sense of the word made this socialist laugh out loud. Thanks for the lulz, wolfwalker; that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day!

    As a serious leftist, I’ve been frequently annoyed by some of the batty anti-science stuff one gets from the left. I had a Facebook friend who actually believed that NASA and the CIA were using some sort of earthquake ray to cause earthquakes in the US and around the world, for unspecified but nefarious purposes. I’ve had a couple of antivaxxers who were perfectly rational in other areas unfriend me because I would not let their anti-vaccine assertions go unchallenged. Ditto various natural med suggestions, although I usually don’t jump on them unless they’re outrageously stupid, like the crazy raw foods people. I’d feel bad if I didn’t at least try to talk sense to these folks.

    But yeah, the right is more anti-science, and for more ridiculous reasons. The left’s fears of science all stem from the not-crazy idea that corporations do not have our best interests at heart when those best interests are contrary to the shortest path to profits. I don’t think anyone here would deny that the drug companies need to be regulated and watched like hawks. All businesses should be, for that matter. But the right wing . . . they base their anti-science on crazy religious beliefs and fears of the government somehow taking control of everything, a viewpoint which radically changes whenever it comes to other people’s sex lives, where they’re just fine with having government right in the bedroom, or when the government bombs non-Christian brown people, or puts people to death. Consistency is not a characteristic of right-wingers.

  87. #88 Andy
    October 2, 2011

    Before criticising Christians, among other religious people for holding positions contrary to science, remember that science was suppressed by militant atheists (who also engaged in prosletysation of non-militant atheists and murdered them if they rejected militant atheism):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Militant_atheism&oldid=453091525

  88. #89 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 2, 2011

    Well, that’s a steaming load of crap, Andy. Got anything else?

    Before criticising Christians, among other religious people for holding positions contrary to science,

    Christians, among other religious people are required to hold positions contrary to science. Otherwise they’re not Christians (or whatever). Atheists are under no such requirement. So countries that were always hellholes where life was cheap are taken over by governments whose official philosophy (if any of them bothered to learn anything about it, which was rare) was anti-religious, and they became…hellholes where life was cheap. You’re right, must be the atheism!

  89. #90 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    October 2, 2011

    Anypony willing to go up against a bet that “Andy” is Andrew Schlafly? Note also that “Andy” is using “Wiki”‘s “militant atheism” canard almost word-for-word. Makes one wonder if there’s a connection…

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it against: 100% pure bat guano, utterly oatmeal crazy.

  90. #91 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    October 2, 2011

    Also, note that “Andy” has to use an old revision, and not the current one which is a disambiguation page. Gee, I wonder why he has to do that? Couldn’t be because he wants to use the revisions he or one of his flunkies tried to shoehorn into Wikipedia before being rebuffed, right?

  91. #92 Joseph Hertzlinger
    October 2, 2011

    In 2007, in a Republican Presidential debate, seven of the ten people running for the nomination (including the eventual nominee) said they believed in evolution. I doubt if this has changed in the past four years. (On the other hand, that was a small sample.)

    As for the anti-science Left, I’ll note that they managed to stop the Yucca Mountain project. The current administration’s nuclear policy is like a discount for a vacation at a luxury hotel … with the toilets out of order.

  92. #93 lilady
    October 2, 2011

    “In 2007, in a Republican Presidential debate, seven of the ten people running for the nomination (including the eventual nominee) said they believed in evolution. I doubt if this has changed in the past four years. (On the other hand, that was a small sample.)”

    It has changed…I’ve been watching the Republican Debates and following their statements about Evolution versus Intelligent Design. Here is what the current candidates think about Evolution:

    Rick Perry: (Regarding Evolution)”It’s a theory and there are a lot of holes in it.”

    Michele Bachmann: Believes that Intelligent Design should be taught in schools.

    New Gingrich: Believes in science and “creationalism… which is an act of faith”.

    Mitt Romney: “God designed the universe and evolution is the most likely way he designed it”.

    Rick Santorum: Strongly opposes evolution and has a history of proposing legislation to teach Intelligent Design in public schools.

    Ron Paul: “I think there is a theory, a theory of evolution and I don’t accept it”

    Herman Cain: Has not expressed any position yet.

    John Huntsman: “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy”

    I suspect that Huntsman added that comment “Call me crazy” because he knows that he hasn’t passed the litmus tests to be considered as a serious candidate in this present day Republican party.

  93. #94 Denice Walter
    October 2, 2011

    @ Candy:

    Woo-meisters I survey take the curious position of using the rhetoric of the left to condemn the “corporatocracy” ( whose unnatural products/ interference cause AGW, autism, chronic illness, and GMO “Franken-foods”) however, they simultaneously preach libertartian small goverment, anti-regulation, low-tax, business-friendly trickle-down crapo-nomics.-btw- they own corporations.

    Somehow they manage to diss “the Man” whether he represents Big Governmental or Big Corporate “oppression”. Something for everyone’s gripes. I perceive that they feel their audience will not discern how absurd this is- this is no problem because their particular audiences might believe anything ( see Wakefield).

  94. #95 Andrew
    October 2, 2011

    Andy is correct in noticing that the current anti-Darwin movement in America is in the same tradition as the anti-Darwin movements in Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR.

  95. #96 wolfwalker
    October 2, 2011

    as expected: personal abuse, arguments from irrelevance and personal incredulity, but no substantive replies. Thanks guys, from earlier posts in this comment-thread I was beginning to wonder if maybe leftists had begun to learn something, and mutate from malignant orcs back into intelligent entities. Nice to find you haven’t. The most numerous of the Dark Lord’s many servants you remain.

    Of course, anyone who actually believes that Barry Lackwit’s “personal politics are somewhere between Eisenhower and Nixon,” or that he’s governing as a “right-wing president,” or that his health-lack-of-care bill was actually intended to keep health insurance companies in business … well, such a person is not worth talking to IMO. At least not on politics. Though in view of the developing Gunwalker scandal, I will agree that Lackwit’s sense of morals bears a striking resemblance to Tricky Dick’s, as does his ability to select thoroughly corrupt subordinates.

    Adieu.

  96. #97 palindrom
    October 2, 2011

    Andrew @94 –

    Godwin Bingo! [Ding ding ding ding ding!]

    Seriously, I’d always thought, though I may be wrong, that the Nazis pointed to evolution as support. Didn’t they justify their horrors with the assertion that they’d evolved past all those other ‘Untermenschen’ that surrounded them? The anti-evo crowd certainly likes to assert that there’s a slippery slope between the Beagle and genocide.

  97. #98 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 2, 2011

    I know it’s fun to bash those whose politics you don’t agree with, but I think a big [citation needed] applies here.

  98. #99 Militant Agnostic
    October 2, 2011

    Palindrom @96

    Hitler specifically stated that one species could not evolve from another and humans were not descended from apes. He definitely rejected evolution although he obviously advocated eugenics. A lot of creationists have advocated eugenics. The forced sterilization of mentally handicapped people in the Province of Alberta did not end until the Fundametalist Social Credit party was defeated by the secular Progressive Conservatives in 1971. Repealing the Eugenics act was the second bill the Lougheed government passed.

    Remember that creationists are professional liers.

  99. #100 palindrom
    October 2, 2011

    Militant Agnostic @99 — Thank you for the information! Another bit of conventional wisdom bites the dust.

    It’s interesting to ask why creationists have to be “professional liars”, as you put it.

    My take is that any somewhat thoughtful creationist — and there must be some — knows, at some level, that what they believe is completely at odds with reality, yet they MUST believe it, or the whole house of cards that they believe in comes down. In their eyes, this would be worse than death. With the stakes this high, facts become trivial inconveniences to be denied at will. Their intellectual dishonesty is all that keeps them from falling into the great Void that yawns beneath them, ready to swallow them whole if they should ever drop their defenses.

    I actually have some sympathy for them, since they are, at some level, trapped in a place of existential terror. Such are the wages of assuming that the Bible is a science book.

    Just so you don’t misunderstand me — I’m pretty much a stone atheist, and have been since childhood. But it’s interesting to consider what motivates others.

  100. #101 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    October 2, 2011

    “Andrew” shows up to give a bona-fide AOL to what “Andy” was saying, right after “Andy” shows up to restate what “Wiki” was saying.

    Schlafly, if you’re going to sockpuppet, you need to at least make it plausible.

  101. #102 Candy
    October 2, 2011

    Somehow they manage to diss “the Man” whether he represents Big Governmental or Big Corporate “oppression”. Something for everyone’s gripes.

    Denice, I agree; the sociopaths at the top of the woo-meister pyramid are certainly equal opportunity liars for woo.

  102. #103 mikel
    October 2, 2011

    My take is that any somewhat thoughtful creationist — and there must be some — knows, at some level, that what they believe is completely at odds with reality, yet they MUST believe it, or the whole house of cards that they believe in comes down. In their eyes, this would be worse than death.

    Kurt Wise. And Todd Wood.

  103. #104 palindrom
    October 2, 2011

    Mikel @103 —

    Thank you for that link to the story about Kurt Wise (the other one didn’t work, I’m afraid) — he epitomizes exactly what I was thinking. Here’s an intelligent guy who knows what science says, and understands it too, but who has explicitly chosen to believe the Bible instead, because that’s what his faith tells him to do. As Dawkins comments, it must be an awful position to find yourself in.

    I wish these folks would become Lutherans, or Presbyterians, or Congregationalists, or something — their doctrines have the tremendous advantage of being unfalsifiable, so people can believe in them without throwing away science, and with some sense of security that their faith won’t be shattered next Tuesday afternoon by some scientific discovery.

  104. #105 mikel
    October 2, 2011

    Sorry about the second link (it works on my computer) but here’s the URL :
    toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html

  105. #106 Andrew
    October 2, 2011

    Hitler and Stalin both banned Darwin’s works; if noticing that is a “Godwin,” then so be it.

  106. #107 Andrew
    October 2, 2011

    “The anti-evo crowd certainly likes to assert that there’s a slippery slope between the Beagle and genocide.”

    Yes, but they are lying. Hitler loathed the idea of evolution. Darwin, on the other hand, loathed the idea of genocide, as even the most cursory review of his life and works will indicate. For those who don’t understand irony, when I was sarcastically agreeing with Schafly that his so-called militant atheists do bad things, I was pointing out that Schafly agreed with the Nazis and Soviets about suppressing science.

  107. #108 palindrom
    October 2, 2011

    mikel@105 — Once again, thanks for the link, which worked this time.

    Another incredibly rare, raw blast of pure intellectual honesty from a creationist. He asserts that evolution is a robust, powerful, well-supported theory — and then rejects it in full knowledge of all of that!

    Wow. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  108. #109 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    October 2, 2011

    I tip my hat to you, Andrew – you have made more of a fool of me than I could have done to myself. Bravo!

  109. #110 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 2, 2011

    Of course, anyone who actually believes that Barry Lackwit’s “personal politics are somewhere between Eisenhower and Nixon,”… well, such a person is not worth talking to IMO.

    Boy, you calling anyone else a “Lackwit” after this festering piece of idiocy is certainly rich. OK, point to a president from the last 150 years or so (Before the Reagan catastrophe) whose politics President Obama’s are to the left of. He’s certainly to the right of FDR, or Truman. The only question is whether he fits between Eisenhower and Nixon or to the right of Nixon. They’re swimming in much different waters—remember the Overton Window has shifted so that the left fringe of the Democratic Party today would all be “moderate” Republicans 40 years ago.

    Hell, even that brainless dildo Reagan, for all the teabaggers’ fetishizing of him, would be shut out of the Republican race in 10 minutes for insufficient batshittery.

  110. #111 palindrom
    October 2, 2011

    Picking up a much earlier thread — this takes quackery and woo-itute to a whole new level:

    http://www.trepanationguide.com/index.htm

    DIY brain surgery? No, thank you.

    If you get trepanned, you might find this helpful perhaps:

    http://www.stopabductions.com/

  111. #112 maydijo
    October 2, 2011

    What gets me almost as much as the Republican turn to anti-science is how Christianity has become synonomous with neo-conservative politics. Happy Heyoka commented on talking to an evangelical about ecoloy. In actual fact it shouldn’t be too hard – the Bible clearly states that man is to be steward over the earth, and surely part of good stewardship is to care for and nurture the earth. But somehow that gets twisted into exploit and dominate. This sort of selective translation is seen in social policy too. We all know the history of Christianity, how it took off as a cult precisely because it was geared towards the poor; but with modern-day evangelicalism that has been replaced, turned on its head. I’ve actually heard evangelicals argue that Christ was anti-taxation. (They conveniantly overlook “render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar” and the tradition that the apostle Mark was a tax collector.) It’s enough to make me wonder if they’ve actually ever read this book they claim to follow.

  112. #113 maydijo
    October 2, 2011

    Trepanation – Just about the only thing I remember from the move “Pi”. Maybe just a step or two lower on the Ladder of Wooitude is the idea of unassisted birthing.

  113. #114 novalox
    October 2, 2011

    @maydijo

    I think it was the apostle Matthew who was the tax collector.

  114. #115 Calton Bolick
    October 3, 2011

    Just a note, but the “Militant atheism” article was the product of some Conservapaedia types to showhorn in their version of reality, and has been reversed after a long battle.

    Meanwhile, speaking of old versions and Conservapaedia’s reliability on things scientific, there’s this long-standing article, only sanitized a month ago when someone realized how embarrassing it was:

    http://conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Unicorn&diff=881204&oldid=832490

  115. #116 maydijo
    October 3, 2011

    Novalox – Don’t I hate it when I try to sound all superior about my knowledge of the Bible only to be proven wrong? Shoot, I knew it was one of the guys whose name started with M. At least I didn’t go for Methuselah.

  116. #117 Waldemar Ingdahl
    October 3, 2011

    Greenpeace, WWF, the Friends of the Earth… these are rich and powerful organizations. But their lobbying power is not their most important tool.

    What is really worrisome about the anti-science left is that it often is able to enter and affect the scientific process itself by affecting boards and journals. That has alleviated the introduction of principles of controlling science like the precautionary principle and the concept of sustainability. Both are political principles not dictating scientific research.

  117. #118 Waldemar Ingdahl
    October 3, 2011

    Greenpeace, WWF, the Friends of the Earth… these are rich and powerful organizations. But their lobbying power is not their most important tool.

    What is really worrisome about the anti-science left is that it often is able to enter and affect the scientific process itself by affecting boards and journals. That has alleviated the introduction of principles of controlling science like the precautionary principle and the concept of sustainability. Both are political principles not dictating scientific research.

  118. #119 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 3, 2011

    Waldemar, your phrasing is somewhat difficult (are you sure “alleviate” means what you think it does?) so it’s hard to tell what you actually mean. If you mean that you think the anti-science left has succeeded in corrupting scientific inquiry through promotion of the precautionary principle and principles of sustainability, I have to disagree. Scientific inquiry is a tool we use to try and make our lives better, but it is not always the correct tool to use. We owe it to ourselves to try and curb it in those instances where it would actually make our lives worse.

  119. #120 Stu
    October 3, 2011

    WARNING: Do NOT engage the spelling-challenged Scandinavian bearing Greenpeace/WWF conspiracy theories. There is a certain thread on another blog on this site that is up to 1300 posts by now that serves as a warning what happens when you do.

  120. #121 JayK
    October 3, 2011

    @Waldemar Ingdahl:

    Do you have citations to some sort of evidence that leftists have done what you have claimed? And I agree with Antaeus Feldspar, there must be some sort of language barrier and you meant something other than what you typed.

  121. #122 Andrew Dodds
    October 4, 2011

    JayK -

    No, it’s a classic denialist tactic to write badly formed sentences with numerous misspellings, which appear to insinuate many things without explicitly saying them. Therefore making the person you are ‘debating’ make your arguments for you whilst being able to deny that you ever made them.

    Well, it could be a tactic, or it could be basic stupidity. Hard to tell sometimes.

  122. #123 Medical Computer
    October 4, 2011

    As I have mostly belong to the democrat values you teasing my curiosity…

    What made your opinions changed?
    Do you think that the crisis can be one on this reasons that has changed your mind?

  123. #124 Rob K
    October 4, 2011

    All this anti-science stuff is absolutely ridiculous. Religion and personal bias has absolutely no place in Politics. Similar to Machiavelli’s principles, the rulers should rule with what is in the best interest of the people, and not what is best in one’s own eyes. I’m appalled how a person can go on national television and deny evolution and tell people to not get vaccinated against disease. These people as a whole give the impression that America is comprised of a bunch of country bumpkins. Disgraceful. That’s not even the scariest part. The scariest part is that people like this might be running our country.

  124. #125 Steve
    October 5, 2011

    I can’t believe how gullible the masses are. Anyone who believes politicians are acting in our best interest….must have really long necks that allow them to bury their heads in the sand because the Pollies are toying with us.

    The president is just a puppet with the bankers pulling the strings. I can’t believe how many ‘promises’ the Prez has backpeddled on since he took office.

    He is a smooth speaker but it is controlled by the ‘big boys’ and doing what is best for the masses costs money and the bankers are all about making money for themselves, not spending it on the health of a nation…

  125. #126 Stanton
    October 6, 2011

    You have a large segment of the population that is fact-averse and anti-intellectual and they have no use for science and most facts. Their beliefs are their beliefs and they will never let the truth get in their way. When people quote scripture to back up their false statements there isn’t much you can do.

  126. #127 Andrew
    October 7, 2011

    How’s the 2nd Law Of Thermodynamics doing?

  127. #128 tresmal
    October 8, 2011

    It’s doing fine. Why do you ask?

  128. #129 Andrew
    October 8, 2011

    Because that law of physics completely invalidates any suggestion that anthropomorphic CO2 emissions influence “climate”(no global warming because there is no global climate).

  129. #130 Lawrence
    October 8, 2011

    Andrew – I wonder how you missed that big thing in the sky we call the “Sun” – you know, the thing that continues to put energy into our “open” system here on Earth?

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics might apply if we existed in a closed system, except that we don’t.

  130. #131 Andrew
    October 8, 2011

    You’re absolutely correct, the Earth is an open system, and sheds any extra energy every day-making any “global warming” scenarios impossible.

    In an open environment such as a planet and its atmosphere, the greenhouse effect contradicts the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that in a naturally occurring system you cannot pump heat from a cooler region to a warmer region because the natural flow is in the opposite direction.

    This goes back to the Carl Sagan lie about Venus, where they were claiming that sunlight would enter the thick planetary have of Venus, strike and warm the planetary surface, then be reflected back up to the cooler clouds, which would then drive the heat back down to the warmer planetary surface. Here lies the contradiction to the second law of thermodynamics.

    `

  131. #132 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    [citation required]

  132. #133 Militant Agnostic
    October 8, 2011

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that in a naturally occurring system you cannot pump heat from a cooler region to a warmer region because the natural flow is in the opposite direction.

    Ever heard of a heat pump? The mechanism for AGW is bit more complicated than that.

    Andrew – how many post secondary thermodynamics courses have you taken? Dunning and Kruger must be proud of you.

    This goes back to the Carl Sagan lie about Venus, where they were claiming that sunlight would enter the thick planetary have of Venus, strike and warm the planetary surface, then be reflected back up to the cooler clouds, which would then drive the heat back down to the warmer planetary surface.

    You clearly do not have a clue about basic physics. A cold object can and does reflect eletromagnetic radiation. In any case that is not how C02 traps heat.

  133. #134 Jarred C
    October 8, 2011

    Dunning and Kruger must be proud of you.

    I think they’d be more disappointed to have yet another data point confirming their hypothesis. “Sigh. Another one. I really wish we were wrong.”

  134. #135 herr doktor bimler
    October 8, 2011

    In an open environment such as a planet and its atmosphere, the greenhouse effect contradicts the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

    So greenhouses do not exist. Good to know.

    the Carl Sagan lie about Venus
    Gosh, whose word to believe? A prominent, well-recognised, multiple-award-winning scientist, or an anonymous blog commentor? Always a difficult choice.

  135. #136 Narad
    October 8, 2011

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that in a naturally occurring system you cannot pump heat from a cooler region to a warmer region because the natural flow is in the opposite direction.

    In other news, the flush toilet is a physical impossibility, so smoke ‘em while you got ‘em, Velikovsky.

  136. #137 Andrew
    October 8, 2011

    I’d just like to add that the “Andrew” who is misusing the second law of thermodynamics is not the same fellow as me (the Andrew who talked about Hitler’s opposition to Darwin, and Darwin’s opposition to genocide).

  137. #138 Militant Agnostic
    October 8, 2011

    herr doktor bimler

    Gosh, whose word to believe? A prominent, well-recognised, multiple-award-winning scientist, or an anonymous blog commentor? Always a difficult choice.

    The choice becomes even more difficult when the anonymous blog commentor has discovered a new version of the second law of thermodynamics unknown to engineers and scientists.

    herr doktor – I will be most disappointed if I discover that you do not wear either wire rim glasses or a monocle, have a moustache, and I expect you to be posting from one of these.

    Andrew @137 That is why it is important to be somewhat creative in the choice of a nym – Just ask MI Dawn.

  138. #139 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    Militant Agnostic:

    Andrew @137 That is why it is important to be somewhat creative in the choice of a nym – Just ask MI Dawn.

    Speak for yourself. There is someone who uses the same name as me, and actually writes the same stuff I would write (not as often now, I suspect he/she is now mostly at the Bad Astronomer). I like the confusion.

  139. #140 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 8, 2011

    One reason not-Andrew’s inanity is so puzzling is that what he quotes is actually the First Law of Thermodynamics, not the Second. And yes, heat flows from a warmer object to a cooler one. We have a warm object quite nearby—the Sun. Admittedly there’s no medium between it and us to support the more efficient modes of heat transfer—conduction and convection—but radiation seems to do the job well enough.

    Then heat transfers from the Earth to the sky in every other direction, hampered to a greater or lesser degree by gasses in the atmosphere that reabsorb the heat on the way out. You add more of these gasses to the atmosphere, the radiation of heat to the night sky is more and more hampered. This, not-Andrew, is physics. Disprove 300 years of science and your Nobel Prize awaits. I’ll be over here holding my breath, ’cause I’m sure it’ll be soon.

    Here’s an interesting factoid—planets are warmed by the greenhouse effect trapping heat in their atmospheres. After this effect was named, it turns out that greenhouses are warmed primarily because their roofs keep the hot air from escaping like it would from a similar volume of free air, and not because of the “greenhouse effect”.

  140. #141 Militant Agnostic
    October 9, 2011

    Rev Battleaxe

    The first law is conservation of energy. The second law is increasing entropy which is the one not-Andrew is abusing.

    What astounds me about these D-K wizards is how they think that all those scientists have overlooked violation of a second law of thermodynamics. Do they think that these laws are known only to a small elite cadre of HVAC engineers and themselves? Do they not consider the possibility that instead of a vast number of scientists across many disciplines overlooking a huge error, their own understanding of thermodynamics might be wrong.

  141. #142 herr doktor bimler
    October 9, 2011

    I will be most disappointed if I discover that you do not wear either wire rim glasses or a monocle, have a moustache

    The spectacles are of the narrow-horn-rim variety for peering quizzically over. Otherwise, the accuracy of Militant Agnostic’s description is uncanny.

  142. #143 notdrew
    October 9, 2011

    ORAC, you’re cheeky. Cheeky, cheeky, cheeky……..

  143. #144 Daniel J. Andrews
    October 11, 2011

    Christians, among other religious people are required to hold positions contrary to science. Otherwise they’re not Christians (or whatever).

    What complete and utter nonsense, battleax (112). Usually I associate such inaccurate blanket assertions with extreme fundamentalists and those afflicted with a bad case of Dunning-Kruger syndrome (D-K: It ain’t just applicable to the scientifically ignorant). Wow…you must have been having a heck of an off-day.

    As I’ve said before, we easily identify logical fallacies in the arguments of those we disagree with, but then turn around and use the exact same logical fallacies ourselves. We chastise the scientifically ignorant for their sometimes really stupid assertions but too often we’re religious-ignorant and know not that of which we speak.

    Every fundie who wants to challenge science should be required to take several courses in what they want to challenge; and every person who wants to challenge a religion should be required to take several courses in what that religion is actually about.

  144. #145 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 11, 2011

    and every person who wants to challenge a religion should be required to take several courses in what that religion is actually about.

    I know exactly what every religion “is about”. It’s about believing in entities that don’t exist. Period, end of discussion.

  145. #146 Gray Falcon
    October 12, 2011

    You believe in justice, don’t you? Can you say that justice, as a physical thing, exists?

  146. #147 Gray Falcon
    October 12, 2011

    Sorry, I shouldn’t have made the last post. I should know better than to get involved in religious arguments.

  147. #148 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 12, 2011

    You believe in justice, don’t you? Can you say that justice, as a physical thing, exists?

    Of course not. Justice isn’t a physical thing. It’s an abstraction. Human beings exist—barring solipsism, that’s an observed fact. They interact with each other. That’s an observed fact. “Justice” is an abstraction describing certain aspects of their interactions. The characteristics that define it are just a definition, like the definition of legal moves in chess.

    An invisible sky fairy has to be a physical entity, however, or it can’t possibly do anything—so why would we care about it. The fact that none of the imaginary entities invented by humans over the millennia exist is as solid an observed fact as anything could be, especially since in some cases, historical records give us a complete account of the process by which successive generations progressively pulled these “gods” out of their asses.

  148. #149 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    October 12, 2011

    And I should have refreshed before answering you. It’s just that insane right-wing trolls who use words like “Socialism” without having the first idea of what they mean tend to get on my last nerve these days. “Keep the gummint out of my Medicare!” you know. You just got caught in the prop wash. Sorry.

  149. #150 lilady
    October 12, 2011

    This “fool” is about to weigh in where angels fear to tread.

    Because of our religious backgrounds, Gray Falcon and I have had great sport taking on some very odious trolls who tend to pontificate about their Christian beliefs that is radicalized and tied up in patriotism, misanthropy and prejudice toward non-believers. And, no one could ever label us as narrow-minded bible-thumping bigots who are clueless when it comes to science or medicine.

    Now it may not be the very strict, very traditional conservative religious upbringing of my youth…but it is very compatible with my science based education and my science-based profession.

    I absolutely abhor the manner in which my Christian religion has been hijacked by the conservative right. I enjoy all my friends and acquaintances who have a variety of beliefs..or are non-believers and I am decidedly a lefty who believes in caring for the most vulnerable people in our society and “sharing the wealth”…which probably means I’m a socialist.

  150. #151 Ender
    November 1, 2011

    Thank you Daniel J. Andrews – an intelligent comment at last! – It’s a pity that people just can’t seem to get their facts right, whether attacking religion or science, the idiots with little knowledge and silly opinions always seem to shoot their mouth off.

  151. #152 kamizushi
    April 26, 2012

    I don’t know that animal rights are anti-science. You can’t test the wrongness of hurting animals, it’s an ethical question, not a scientific question.

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